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About DCCL

The Ferris doctor of education (Ed.D.) program was created for leaders of mission-driven, 21st-century community colleges.  Courses are taught by experienced college leaders, including current and recent community college presidents, vice presidents, and deans.  This program is designed to prepare leaders for the changing environments in education.  This inquiry-based, problem-solving, action-oriented approach is designed to develop the essential skills that will lead to success, regardless of the level from which graduates will lead.


 Below is information for you to explore regarding the DCCL program. Visit our Learn More page to attend an informational webinar, talk to a graduate, or contact us with questions.

  •  Mission & Outcomes

    The Ferris State University Doctorate in Community College Leadership empowers graduates to advance community colleges toward excellence and community responsiveness through exemplary leadership.

    Graduates will have the capacity to:

    • Advance the college mission
    • Orchestrate effective governance
    • Implement institutional strategy
    • Enhance academic quality
    • Empower student success
    • Cultivate community relationships
    • Ensure fiscal stewardship
    • Develop as a person, scholar, and leader
  •  Course Descriptions

    The program uses a blended delivery approach. Classes typically have a face-to-face component of a few days or a weekend. Typical summers require leaders to be in Michigan for 4 - 5 days. The balance of instruction is online, with occasional synchronous virtual conversations. Cohort members typically make 4 - 5 trips to Michigan each year, except for site-based cohorts that are held at other locations. Complete in just three years with 61 credits.

    Sample Schedule

    Summer Year 1 
    1 credit dissertation
    Fall Year 1 
    1 credit dissertation
    Spring Year 1 
    1 credit dissertation

    IDSL 805 The Past, Present, and Future of Community Colleges 
    Provides a broad overview of the historical context of community colleges in the United States as well as their current and future roles, governance structures, and leadership challenges to hypothesize future directions and leadership challenges.

    IDSL 810 Critical Issues in Community Colleges
    Examines the external forces and current issues impacting community colleges, including social, political, and environmental change. Students examine the origins of the issues and the perspectives of varied stakeholders, and evaluate potential impact(s).

    IDSL 825 Foundations of Effective Leadership
    Examines various leadership theories and the relationship between leadership styles and organizations, examining the optimal “fit” of an individual leader, leadership role, and organizational environment.

    IDSL 885 Creating Culture of  Student Learning and Success
    This course evaluates past and current theories of and strategies for improving student success including best practices in persistence, completion, and student development. Focus is on continuous improvement strategies deriving from data analysis.

    IDSL 880 Leadership for Teaching and Learning
    This course focuses on current research, theories, and best practices, and future possibilities for effective teaching and learning, with emphasis on methods for reaching diverse student populations, assessing learning, developing essential skills, creating effective learning environments, and exploring alternative curricular and instructional opportunities.

    IDSL 840 Qualitative Research Methods and Data Analysis
    Addresses foundational principles of methods of qualitative inquiry, with emphasis on ensuring ethical standards, establishing assumptions and limitations for a study, developing appropriate research questions and approach, and designing effective data collection methods.

    Summer Year 2 
    2 credits dissertation
    Fall Year 2 
    1 credit dissertation
    Spring Year 2 
    1 credit dissertation

    IDSL 845 Quantitative Research Methods and Data Analysis
    Addresses foundational principles and elements of methods of quantitative inquiry, with emphasis on ensuring ethical standards, establishing assumptions and limitations for a study, designing effective data collection methods and interpreting quantitative results utilizing standard statistical techniques.

    IDSL 870 Marketing and Community Engagement 
    This course examines the concepts of community relations, engagement, and marketing as they apply to the community college. Topics include effective engagement and communication strategies, building the college brand or image, and methods for measuring stakeholder perceptions.

    IDSL 860 Resource Development
    Covers the role, rationale, and basic principles of public and private resource development in community colleges, from millage and bond campaigns to grants and philanthropic fundraising.

    IDSL 894 Practicum
    Provides an independent, individual learning
    experience designed specifically to meet the
    learner’s professional goals.

    IDSL 865 Leveraging Human Resources
    Examines methods for maximizing the college’s human resources, including the expertise needed to provide leadership in designing effective models of employee involvement and development within the context of labor laws, agreements, and governance structures.

    Summer Year 3 
    1 credit dissertation
    Fall Year 3 
    1 credit dissertation
    Spring Year 3 
    6 credits dissertation

    IDSL 835 Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness
    Explores strategic planning for community colleges as driven by institutional mission, vision, and values. Applying a systems approach, students identify essential elements, integrate these into a strategic plan, and analyze their interrelationships.

    IDSL 855 Managing Financial Resources
    Provides an overview of the budgetary concepts and processes that are foundational to the financial health of community colleges, including decision making frameworks, analytical tools, capital
    planning, technology planning, and state and federal regulations and practices.

    IDSL 895 Policy and Governance 
    Addresses external and internal models of governance, their constituents, and their unique perspectives by focusing on leadership attributes that provide the agility needed to bring these groups together and develop a shared vision.

    IDSL 830 Leading Organizational Transformation and Cultural Change
    Focuses on theories and best practices for leading organizational change, including how to apply change theories and strategies to organizational needs, develop change plans with articulated visions and strategic frameworks, and define processes for implementing and monitoring change for improvement and sustainability.

    Comprehensive Interviews and Presentations (CIPs)
    Comprehensive Interviews and Presentations (CIPs) is the integrative capstone experience for DCCL students. Through a portfolio and interview process, students demonstrate mastery of the DCCL program outcomes. Successful completion is required for advancement to dissertation defense and graduation.


    IDSL 898 Dissertation
    Each semester, students demonstrate appropriate dissertation progress in accord with direction, guidance, and assessment guided by the student's dissertation committee. Students demonstrate progress through submission of deliverables evidencing problem discovery and definition; literature review; methodology design, limitations, and implementation; data analysis and interpretation; and corresponding dissertation narrative. Deliverables and expectations are based on the 3-year completion plan.

  •  Application Information

    The goal of the DCCL admission process is to bring together a diverse and highly-qualified cohort of learners. The admission process is designed to select applicants who demonstrate the greatest potential for both successful graduate work and, upon program completion, substantive contribution to the leadership of community colleges.

    An applicant's admissions packet will be considered holistically along with the overall composition of the admissions packets of the cohort group, with a goal of creating balance and diversity within the group. Whenever possible the composition of the cohort will represent geographically and demographically diverse institutions and individuals so that student input in the courses will reflect a variety of experiences.

    The admissions committee will review applications as they are received.  You can apply at any time, and if accepted, be offered a seat in the next available cohort.  After all materials are received, they will be sent to the admissions committee, which will make a decision within 15 business days.

    For consideration, the following admissions materials must be received on or before the application deadline:

    • Completed online application form. *NOTE: Choose MAIN CAMPUS within the form.
    • Official college transcripts from your highest degree.  Original documents become property of Ferris State University and cannot be returned.  These must be sent directly from the granting institution to Ferris.
    • Current resume or curriculum vitae.
    • Submission of essay question responses (see below).
    • Submission of 2-3 writing samples (see below).
    • Answers to brief supplemental questions (online form).

    Click here for more information on the application process

  •  More Information

    Below are additional aspects to explore regarding the DCCL program.